Smriti Mandhana top-scored on her return to the side from injury as India beat West Indies by six wickets in Antigua on Wednesday in the third match of the ICC Women’s Championship series.
Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues shared a 141-run opening partnership as India chased down a target of 195 with 7.5 overs to spare.
India thus bounced back after losing the first ODI of the series by one run to emerge winners by a 2-1 scoreline. The second ODI saw the visitors register a comfortable 53-run win. They consolidated their position at the third place in the ICC Women’s Championship table as well, with 20 points from 18 matches; moving four clear of South Africa.
Returning to the side after missing the three-match series at home against South Africa and the first two matches in Antigua, Mandhana looked in the zone. It was Rodrigues who set the tempo for the chase as Mandhana took her time, spending lot of time at the non-striker’s end in the early stages. The fifty-run stand came in the 10th over as the openers gave India a flying start, finding the boundaries regularly.
The 18-year-old was the first to reach the half century, getting to the landmark off 69 balls. That was followed by Mandhana hitting two sixes in one over, while a third followed couple of overs later to take her to a half century off just 49 balls. With that six, Mandhana also brought up 2000 runs in ODIs, the fastest Indian and third fastest overall to get to the milestone in terms of innings taken (51).
The partnership came to an end with Rodrigues and Mandhana both falling to Hayley Matthews in quick succession. India lost four wickets for 40 runs but that was just a minor wobble before Deepti Sharma hit the winning runs in the 43rd over.
The victory was set up by a disciplined bowling performance by Indian spinners, who once again restricted the run-scoring for West Indies with their guile.
Winning the toss and opting to bat first, West Indies were rocked early by Shikha Pandey and Rajeshwari Gayakwad. The first two wickets came in the first 10 overs, as hosts were reduced to 33/2. Then, there was a moment of controversy that saw Hayley Matthews given out runout despite wicket-keeper Taniya Bhatia disturbing the stumps before gathering the ball. But, given there was no third umpire in use this series, the decision stood and Matthews had to walk back for 26, despite looking in good touch on her return from suspension.
The Indian spinners then choked the West Indies batters, with Stafanie Taylor waging a lone battle till Stacy Ann King joined her at 84/5. The two played some sensible cricket to start and then accelerated during the batting powerplay. The last 15 overs saw West Indies add 102 runs, thanks to the 96-run partnership between Taylor and King. The West Indies captain top-scored for her side with 79.
For India, Deepti Sharma impressed with her ability to bowl dot balls in the middle overs, finishing with figures of 1/26 in 10 overs that saw her bowl three maidens. Jhulan Goswami picked up two wickets in her final over to go with a run-out. Poonam Yadav (2/35) and Gaywakwad (1/39) finished with three wickets between them.
The run-chase could have been tricky on an Antigua pitch where the first two matches where won by the sides batting first but Mandhana and Rodrigues had other ideas. Mandhana walked away with the player of the match award while Taylor was adjudged player of the series.
The five-match T20I series begins on 9 November.